In the interest of being organized and not cluttering up things too badly, multiple events on one day will be on one thread.
First up, Muskegon, Michigan:
Human occupation of the Muskegon area goes back seven or eight thousand years to the nomadic Paleo-Indian hunters who occupied the area following the retreat of the Wisconsonian glaciations. The Paleo-Indians were superseded by several stages of Woodland Indian developments, the most notable of whom were the Hopewellian type-tradition, which occupied this area, perhaps two thousand years ago.
During historic times, the Muskegon area was inhabited by various bands of the Odawa (Ottawa) and Pottawatomi Indian tribes, but by 1830 Muskegon was solely an Ottawa village. Perhaps the best remembered of the area’s Indian inhabitants was the Ottawa Indian Chief, Pendalouan. A leading participant in the French-inspired annihilation of the Fox Indians of Illinois in the 1730s, Pendalouan and his people lived in the Muskegon vicinity during the 1730s and 1740s until the French induced them to move their settlement to the Traverse Bay area in 1742.
The name “Muskegon” is derived from the Ottawa tribe term “Masquigon,” meaning “marshy river or swamp”.
During the lumbering era of the late 1800s, lumber companies sent white pine logs down the Muskegon River from as far away as Houghton Lake in Northern Michigan to sawmills and processing facilities in Muskegon.
The “Masquigon” River (Muskegon River) was identified on French maps dating from the late seventeenth century, suggesting French explorers had reached Michigan’s western coast by that time. Father Jacques Marquette traveled northward through the area on his fateful trip to St. Ignace in 1675 and a party of French soldiers under La Salle’s lieutenant, Henry de Tonty, passed through the area in 1679.
The county’s earliest known Euro-American resident was Edward Fitzgerald, a fur trader and trapper who came to the Muskegon area in 1748 and who died there, reportedly being buried in the vicinity of White Lake. Sometime between 1790 and 1800, a French-Canadian trader named Joseph La Framboise established a fur trading post at the mouth of Duck Lake. Between 1810 and 1820, several French Canadian fur traders, including Lamar Andie, Jean Baptiste Recollect and Pierre Constant had established fur trading posts around Muskegon Lake.
Euro-American settlement of Muskegon began in earnest in 1837, which coincided with the beginning of the exploitation of the area’s extensive timber resources. The commencement of the lumber industry in 1837 inaugurated what some regard as the most romantic era in the history of the region. Lumbering in the mid-nineteenth century brought many settlers, especially ones from Germany, Ireland, and Canada.
Some neighborhoods of Muskegon began as separate villages. Bluffton was founded as a lumbering village in 1862 in Laketon Township. It had its own post office from 1868 until 1892. Muskegon annexed it in 1889.
The Janesville area was home to many Native American tribes before the settlement of people from the East. With the Indian Removal Act of 1830, many Native American peoples were uprooted and forced out of their homelands to make room for the new settlers, with many Native peoples, including the Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi, being forced onto reservations.
American settlers John Inman, George Follmer, Joshua Holmes, and William Holmes, Jr. built a crude log cabin in the region in 1835. Later that year, one key settler named Henry F. Janes, a native of Virginia who was a self-proclaimed woodsman and early city planner, arrived in what is now Rock County. Janes came to the area in the early 1830s, and initially wanted to name the budding village “Blackhawk,” after the famous Sauk leader, Chief Black Hawk, but was turned down by Post Office officials. After some discussion, it was settled that the town would be named after Janes himself and thus, in 1835, Janesville was founded. Despite being named after a Virginian, Janesville was founded by immigrants from New England. These were old stock Yankee immigrants, descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. The completion of the Erie Canal caused a surge in New Englander immigration to what was then the Northwest Territory. Some of them were from upstate New York, and had parents who had moved to that region from New England shortly after the Revolutionary War. New Englanders, and New England transplants from upstate New York, were the vast majority of Janesville’s inhabitants during the first several decades of its history. Land surveys encouraged pioneers to settle in the area among the abundance of fertile farmland and woodlands. Many of these early settlers established farms and began cultivating wheat and other grains.
Some of the key settlers hailed from the burned-over district of western New York State, (an area notable for being a part of the Christian revival movement known as the Second Great Awakening). Some of those in that revival movement were also active in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements. One of the settlers in Janesville was William Tallman, who hailed from Rome, New York. Tallman came to the area in 1850 and bought up large tracts of land in hopes of inspiring his fellow New Yorkers to settle in the fertile Rock County. He established himself as one of the most influential and affluent members of the budding Janesville populace. He was passionate about the call for abolition and became a supporter of the Republican Party. One of the crowning moments in Tallman’s life was when he convinced the up-and-coming Illinois Republican, Abraham Lincoln, to speak in Janesville in 1859. The Tallman house is now a historical landmark, and best known as “The place where Abraham Lincoln slept.”
As the population grew in the Janesville area, several new industries began cropping up along the Rock River, including flour and lumber mills. The first dam was built in 1844.
Janesville was very active during the Civil War. Local farms sold grains to the Union army, and Rock County was one of the counties in Wisconsin with the highest number of men enlisted. Thomas H. Ruger, of Janesville, served in the war, along with his brothers, Edward, William, and Henry, and he rose to the rank of brigadier general. Ruger later served as military governor of Georgia, and commandant of West Point. He is memorialized at Fort Ruger in Diamond Head, Hawaii.
After the Civil War, Janesville’s agriculture continued to surge and a greater demand for new farming technology led to the development of several foundries and farm machine manufacturers in the area, including the Janesville Machine Company, and the Rock River Iron Works. With the boom in the farm service sector and establishment of a rail system, Janesville soon began to ship goods to and from prominent eastern cities, including New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. After decades of rigorous grain farming, the soil quality around Janesville began to degrade. Farmers responded to this by planting tobacco, which became one of the most profitable and prolific crops grown in Wisconsin during the late 19th century.
Another development during the mid-19th century was the establishment of a women’s rights movement in Janesville. The movement was founded in the 1850s and continued after the Civil War. One of the key focuses of the group during the 1870s was the Temperance movement.
In the late 1880s, German immigrants began to arrive in Janesville in large numbers (making up less than 5% of the town before this time). They were the largest non-English-speaking group to settle there. Unlike in some other areas, in Janesville, they experienced virtually no hostility or xenophobia. Janesville’s founding English-Puritan-descended Yankee population welcomed them with open arms, with many writing back to relatives in Germany enthusiastically. This led to chain migration which increased the German population of the town. Only one German-language newspaper was founded in the town; it was known as The Janesville Journal, and began in 1889, printing for only a few years.
More of course at the links above.
I’ll add live links to this post during the late afternoon as they become available.
In the meantime, please post tweets and videos below of what’s going on the upper Midwest where fall has arrived, and any travel stories you may have.